Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact

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New History Textbook for Middle School Students Chapter 3 Section 3, 4


Section 3 – The spread of education and culture and the growth of manufacturing

Topic 41 – Tsunayoshi’s Government of Law and Reason and the Genroku culture
What were the distinguishing characteristics of the Genroku culture that flourished in the Kyoto area?

Tsunayoshi’s Government of Law and Reason
By the middle of the seventeenth century, the violent climate that pervaded the Warring States period diminished. In 1687 (Jokyo 4), Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the fifth shogun, passed the Edict of Compassion for Fellow Creatures, which banned the killing of any animal. Extreme punishments meted out to enforce the edict, including exile to a remote island for mistreatment of dogs and cats, sparked outrage, and Tsunayoshi was given the epithet “dog shogun”. On the other hand, Tsunayoshi also built Yushima Sacred Hall to promote the spread of Confucian teachings and aspired to construct an enlightened government that he called the Government of Law and Reason, or bunchi seiji in Japanese. The pious Tsunayoshi strived to have many shrines and temples built or repaired, but these expenses put a severe strain on the shogunate’s finances.

Almost immediately after Tsunoyshi’s death in 1709 (Hoei 6), his successor, Tokugawa Ienobu, repealed the Edict of Compassion for Fellow Creatures.1 Ienobu then ordered that the construction of new temples and shrines be temporarily halted and appointed Arai Hakuseki to straighten out the budget through a policy of financial austerity.

*1=When the Edict of Compassion for Fellow Creatures was repealed, the shogunate began to set free all those who had been imprisoned or exiled to remote islands for violating the law. Some of them had been convicted of mistreating either cats or dogs, fishing, and even cooking eels. Ienobu lamented the extent of the persecution, estimating the number of people convicted of violating the edict in the hundreds of thousands.

Genroku culture
Manufacturing expanded during Tsunayoshi’s tenure as shogun, and some businessmen grew wealthier than even the daimyo. The wealthy townspeople, based mainly in Osaka and Kyoto, brought into existence new forms of culture and entertainment that enriched the daily lives of the Japanese people called Genroku culture.

In the field of literature, Ihara Saikaku of Osaka wrote about the hedonism of the common people in a positive light in his novels, such as The Eternal Storehouse of Japan. Their lifestyles were described as a “floating world”, or ukiyo in Japanese, and for this reason the novels of the Edo period are called ukiyo zoshi, meaning “tales of the floating world”. Chikamatsu Monzaemon wrote kabuki and puppet plays, including The Love Suicides at Sonezaki and The Love Suicides at Amijima, which were tragedies, of people who destroyed themselves by trying to live as normal human beings. Matsuo Basho composed opening lines to renga poems and perfected this form into the art of haiku.

In the field of painting, Ogata Korin carried on the artistic legacy of early Edo period artist Tawaraya Sotatsu to create lavishly decorated folding screens. Hishikawa Moronobu established the genre of ukiyo-e, “pictures of the floating world”, which depicted the customs of the townspeople. Ukiyo-e art could be bought at affordable prices as woodblock prints and were very popular with the masses.

New avenues of learning
During the Edo period, Confucianism was promoted as a philosophy emphasizing order and social stability. The shogunate favored the Zhu Xi school of Neo-Confucianism, which, among the schools of Confucianism, was especially concerned with the definition of good and evil and the foundation of social morality. Scholars of the Zhu Xi school, such as Hayashi Razan, were employed by the government. It was Zhu Xi Neo-Confucianism, along with emperor worship, which formed the ideological basis of The Great History of Japan, a work of history written under the editorship of Tokugawa Mitsukuni, the daimyo of Mito Domain. The Great History of Japan would later influence the formulation of the Japanese academic movement known as “National Learning”.

On the other hand, Nakae Toju, a scholar of the Wang Yangming school of Neo-Confucianism, criticized what he regarded as the empty theories of the Zhu Xi school and instead advocated translating philosophical ideas into practical actions. Other scholars such as Yamaga Soko, Ito Jinsai, and Ogyu Sorai criticized the Zhu Xi school for obsessing over interpretation while neglecting the original meaning of the key text, The Analects of Confucius.

The Japanese people also made unique accomplishments in the natural sciences. Miyazaki Yasusada wrote The Farmers’ Compendium, a repository of his scientific observations and personal experiences that would remain the Bible of agricultural research for centuries. The mathematician Seki Takakazu calculated pi and independently invented a system of algebra. Japanese mathematics, called wasan, was enjoyed by the common people, from lumberjacks to barrel makers, and even surpassed international standards.

Topic 41 Recap Challenge! – Choose three representative figures of the Genroku culture and explain their significance.

The Samurai and the Spirit of Loyalty

The famous raid of the Forty-Seven Ronin
On the night of December 14, 1702 (Genroku 15), forty-seven masterless samurai of Ako Domain (now Hyogo Prefecture) crept into the Honjo neighborhood of Matsuzaka-cho, Edo (now the Ryogoku neighborhood of Sumida, Tokyo), stormed the private residence of the Shogun’s retainer Lord Kira, and cut off his head. In March of the previous year, Lord Asano, the daimyo of Ako Domain, had struck Lord Kira with his sword while doing service in the Shogun’s residence in Edo. Later that day, Lord Asano was ordered to commit ritual suicide, consigning his retainers to the status of masterless samurai, or ronin in Japanese. The Ako Ronin’s raid was an act of protest against the Shogun’s uneven-handed punishment of Lord Asano.

After Asano’s death, his clan was broken up, his lands were confiscated, and his former retainers, including Chief Retainer Oishi Kuranosuke, were forced out of his castle. Forty-seven of these men, known to history as the Forty-Seven Ronin, swore to settle scores with Kira or die trying. After much sweat and sacrifice, they finally killed Kira and avenged their fallen master. When the Shogun convened the Council of State to discuss how to deal with these ronin, there was sharp disagreement between those who felt that the ronin were rebels defying the Shogun’s judgment and those who felt that the ronin had embodied the virtue of loyalty in being willing to lay down their own lives for their old master. Ultimately, it was decided that defying a shogunal order was a serious crime warranting the death penalty. Still, in consideration of their exemplary loyalty and in deference to public opinion, which favored the ronin, they were allowed to die with honor through ritual suicide, rather than beheading. All the ronin killed themselves by slitting their own bellies. (The true number of ronin sentenced to die was forty-six, as one ronin absconded before the raid.) The controversial case of the Forty-Seven Ronin rocked the shogunate and forced people to rethink how a true samurai should conduct himself.

Denying oneself and affirming one’s duty
In the hedonistic era of the Genroku culture, when so many enjoyed prosperous and leisurely lives, the example set by the Ako Ronin in sacrificing all that they had to avenge their master’s death left a profound impact. The common people were shown not only the stout and austere spirit of the samurai, but even more importantly, the loftiness of the virtue of loyalty.

For their unflagging loyalty to their lord, the Forty-Seven Ronin were dubbed “righteous warriors” and were memorialized in the play and ballad The Treasury of Loyal Retainers, which remains popular in Japan to this day. And yet, one must remember that the Japanese conception of loyalty, chugi in Japanese, does not mean simple obedience. If an incompetent daimyo came to power and acted in a foolhardy manner, it was regarded as acceptable for his retainers to forcibly detain him. To the Japanese of the Edo period, “loyalty” actually meant devotion to public duty greater than that to any one man.

In this sense, the definition of “loyalty” is to deny one’s personal interests while affirming one’s public duty to always serve and protect the community to which one belongs. During the closing years of the Edo shogunate, when Japan was exposed on all sides to pressure from abroad, the samurai transcended the boundaries of their own domains and manifested a spirit of loyalty towards the nation as a whole.

Ninomiya Sontoku and the Virtue of Diligence

Working while studying
Ninomiya Kinjiro, who was posthumously honored as Ninomiya Sontoku, meaning “Ninomiya the Virtuous”, was born in 1787 (Tenmei 7) in a rural village that is now the city of Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture. His father died of illness and Kinjiro, as the eldest son, became head of his family at the age of fourteen. Even as he struggled to support his family, Kinjiro never neglected his studies. As he went about hawking the firewood he had gathered in the mountains or the sandals he had woven at night, it was said he always read either a copy of Great Learning or one of the other Chinese classics that he carried with him everywhere. Prior to World War II, the Japanese government had bronze statues of Ninomiya Kinjiro erected at every elementary school in the country in order to disseminate his teachings of diligence, thrift, and forbearance.

The principle of sekisho idai
At the age of sixteen, he also lost his mother and his family broke up. Kinjiro was entrusted to the care of his uncle, who prevented Kinjiro from reading at night in order to save kerosene. Undeterred, Kinjiro studied by the light of a lamp fueled with rapeseed oil he made himself.

He was always thinking of new ways to avoid waste. The principle he adopted was sekisho idai, which means “small savings add up to big results”. After the paddies had been planted, he gathered up the rice seedlings that had been carelessly discarded in the process, planted them, and from them grew many bags of rice.

Restoring 605 villages and towns
Once he had become a successful farmer leader and businessman, Kinjiro reestablished the Ninomiya family and was recruited by the Hattori family, the chief retainers of the daimyo of Odawara Domain, when their finances were in disarray. Kinjiro set their budget right in just five years.

Next, the daimyo of Odawara asked him to develop the territory of Sakuramachi in Shimotsuke Province (now in Tochigi Prefecture). Kinjiro was a large man, standing 1.82 meters and weighing 94 kilograms, and he put his remarkable strength to work, personally traversing the region to reclaim wastelands and cultivate new fields. Kinjiro ultimately participated in the restoration of 605 villages and towns by providing in-the-field instruction on agricultural techniques, building irrigation dams, managing flood control projects, and constructing bridges. Even when Japan was devastated by the Great Tempo Famine, not a single person died of hunger in the areas that benefited from Kinjiro’s guidance. This was an unparalleled accomplishment.

Ninomiya Kinjiro did not simply advocate hard work alone. He was a rational thinker and financier who understood the importance of sound money management, and also an activist, promoting far-reaching societal reform. His slogan, “virtue is rewarded with virtue”, was enthusiastically embraced during the Meiji Restoration and became a guiding principle behind the construction of the modern Japanese state.

Topic 42 – The development of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation
In what ways did Japanese agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation develop during the first half of the Edo period?

An era of explosive growth
Once the nation was at peace, the people felt reassured and worked hard to raise the quality of their lives. Both the shogunate and the daimyo endeavored to promote agriculture through large-scale reclamation of new rice fields, especially on dry riverbeds and tidal flats. Within one hundred years of the establishment of the Edo shogunate, the total area of Japan’s agricultural land had almost doubled.1

*1=Japan’s vast stretches of wet rice paddies, today an iconic landscape in every part of Japan, were born during the era of the Edo expansion.

Accompanying the expansion of agricultural land, labor productivity was enhanced by the invention of new farming tools, including the “thousand-toothed” threshing rake and the three-pronged Bicchu hoe that could plow fields more deeply. Land productivity also rose as farmers increasingly purchased dried sardines and oil cakes for use as fertilizer.2

*2=Rice output increased, but because the land tax was fixed, the real tax rate dropped to about thirty percent of the crop.

In rural villages, commercial crops became more widely cultivated. Indigo and safflower were produced for dye, rapeseed for oil, and hemp for clothing. By the eighteenth century, cotton was grown in every part of Japan, and sericulture also flourished.

The growth of manufacturing and transportation
Castle towns throughout Japan, including Edo, continued to expand. This generated strong demand for wood as a construction material and created many new jobs in the forestry sector.

A thriving fishery sprang up in Boso (in modern-day Chiba Prefecture), where villagers caught sardines in nets, dried them, and sold them to fill the country’s burgeoning demand for fertilizer. In addition, there was increased fishing of skipjack tuna and whales off the coast of Tosa (modern-day Kochi Prefecture), harvesting of herrings and kelp in Ezochi (modern-day Hokkaido), and salt production on the coast of the Inland Sea.

The exploitation of mines also progressed. Sado (modern-day Niigata Prefecture) became renowned for its gold mines, as did Ikuno (modern-day Hyogo Prefecture) for its silver mines and Ashio (modern-day Tochigi Prefecture) and Besshi (modern-day Ehime Prefecture) for their copper mines. On the authority of the shogunate, gold, silver, and copper were minted into currency or, for silver and copper, exported abroad.3

*3=At the start of the seventeenth century, Japan was said to be exporting up to two hundred tons of silver each year, estimated to be nearly one third of the world’s total silver production at that time.

The Five Highways, a network of roads extending outwards from Nihonbashi in Edo, had been planned by Tokugawa Ieyasu near the start of the Edo shogunate and was finally completed 160 years later. To accommodate the travels of the daimyo to and from Edo under the alternate attendance system, milestones marked with cypress and pine trees were created on the highways at four kilometer intervals to show the way to Nihonbashi. There were also post stations set up every eight to twelve kilometers. Though the shogunate built travel checkpoints in order to monitor traffic, it also maintained a system of letter carriers to facilitate rapid communication.

The glory of the “Three Great Cities”
Booming numbers of merchants and craftsmen came to settle in Edo, known to them as “The Shogun’s Capital”. By the start of the eighteenth century, its population exceeded one million people, making it the world’s largest city.

Osaka also prospered as a center for trading rice, cotton, soy sauce, rice wine, and other products, giving the city its nickname, “the kitchen of the realm”. Each domain owned a warehouse in Osaka and trusted local merchants to sell off the specialty goods of the domain and the rice collected as land taxes. Many of the products collected in Osaka were brought to Edo on cargo ships belonging to the Higaki Line and the Taru Line. Rice wine, fabrics, and many other items from Osaka were highly prized in Edo as a special class of product called kudarimono, literally “offerings from above”.

Kyoto, Japan’s 1,000-year-old capital city, was known as “The Emperor’s City” and boasted such cultural relics as ancient Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. It was also the nation’s

manufacturing heartland, producing high-quality craftwork like Nishijin brocade, weaponry, lacquerware, and gold-sprinkled lacquerware.

Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto were collectively called the “Three Great Cities”. They competed with one another, complemented one another, and achieved new heights of prosperity.

Topic 42 Recap Challenge! – Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka were Japan’s quintessential “great cities”, but each of them had unique functions within the Japanese nation. List and explain the keywords that describe the special characteristics of each of the three

Topic 43 – The spread of education and culture
In what ways did education and modes of culture spread throughout Japan during the Edo period?

Temple schools
The Christian missionaries who visited Japan during the Momoyama period reported with astonishment that even Japanese women and children were able to read. By the Edo period, even the children of commoners learned to read and write. During the second half of the Edo period, the literacy rate in Edo reached fifty to sixty percent, which is believed to be the highest rate in any contemporary city, surpassing even that of London and Paris.

During the Edo period, most commoners received their education at temple schools, which were privately-run elementary schools held in temples or private residences open to the public. Buddhist monks or masterless samurai served as teachers. About 15,000 opened throughout Japan, the largest of which in Edo and Osaka had between five hundred and six hundred students. Temple schools admitted both boys and girls at the age of seven or eight, who were to graduate within four to five years.

Domain schools and private academies
The children of samurai studied at local domain schools. Across Japan there were over 280 such schools to teach the military and literary arts to future samurai. Many of the domain schools were highly prestigious institutions, including Kodo-kan of Mito, Meirin-kan of Choshu, and Zoshi-kan of Satsuma, which turned out many talented graduates.

Private academies were also founded throughout Japan. Examples included Ogata Koan’s Teki-juku, Franz von Siebold’s Narutaki-juku, and Yoshida Shoin’s Shokason-juku. Young men with a passion for knowledge gathered here to be trained by leading academics in subjects such as medicine and the Western sciences, which were referred to as “Dutch Learning”. They studied assiduously and went on to play decisive roles in the modernization of Japan.

Education at the Temple Schools
The temple schools taught not only reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also a wide variety of other subjects, including moral instruction, social studies, geography, history, etiquette, and business. Women were provided additional instruction on sewing and flower arrangement. Temple schools put strong emphasis on moral upbringing. They insisted that students learn the importance of filial piety, honesty, and mental attitude, and they devoted considerable energy towards training students in honorific language, diction, a positive attitude towards studying, and etiquette, including table manners. The textbooks they used were called oraimono or “model letter collections”, and copies of over seven thousand different types survive to this day. The teachers at temple schools, called tenarai shisho or “writing masters”, were highly motivated and committed to educating their students. Nationwide, one third of them were women.
Japan’s Major Domain Schools
Date of establishment Location Name
1641 Okayama Hanabatake-kyojo
1697 Yonesawa Kojo-kan
1719 Hagi Meirin-kan
1736 Sendai Yoken-do
1755 Kumamoto Jishu-kan
1773 Kagoshima Zoshi-kan
1784 Fukuoka Shuyu-kan
1789 Akita Meitoku-kan
1792 Kanazawa Meirin-do
1799 Aizu Nisshin-kan
1805 Tsuruoka Chido-kan
1841 Mito Kodo-kan
Japan’s Major Private Academies
Date of establishment Headmaster Name (Location)
1709 Ogyu Sorai Kenen-juku (Edo)
1648 Nakae Toju Toju-shoin (Omi)
1817 Hirose Tanso Kangi-en (Hita)
1838 Ogata Koan Teki-juku (Osaka)
(when Yoshida began teaching) Yoshida Shoin Shokason-juku (Hagi)

The evolution of new branches of learning
The proliferation of popular education, largely thanks to temple schools, gave rise to practical studies adapted to the lifestyles of Japan’s townspeople and farmers.

Ishida Baigan opened a private academy that promoted, in an easy-to-understand manner, the virtues that the common people should live by, such as diligence, thrift, honesty, and filial piety. He called his philosophy, Heart Learning.

Through research into ancient Japanese texts such as the Kojiki, Motoori Norinaga revealed the beauty of the “Yamato spirit” of the Japanese people before the arrival of Chinese influences like Confucianism and Buddhism. He ascribed Japan’s superiority to other nations to its preservation of a single dynasty, or “unbroken line”, of Emperors since the earliest times. His ideas became the foundation of the academic school known as “National Learning”.

The unprecedented decision of Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth shogun, to allow the importation of Western books, save those on Christianity, sparked a wave of interest in Western sciences. Because these books were written in Dutch, the Japanese referred to Western scholarship as “Dutch Learning”.

Hanaoka Seishu, a physician of the Dutch Learning school, invented a general anesthetic that he called tsusensan and used it to successfully perform painless breast cancer surgery. Sugita Genpaku and Maeno Ryotaku painstakingly translated Dutch anatomy books into Japanese as the basis for their own work The New Text on Anatomy, a landmark contribution to Japanese surgical science. Other great minds of the Edo period were the inventor Hiraga Gennai, who single-handedly created his own electrostatic generator, fireproof fabric, and thermometer, and the astronomer Asada Goryu, who accurately predicted the date of a solar eclipse in the year 1786 (Tenmei 6).

After surveying the length and breadth of Japan on foot, Ino Tadataka composed the first accurate map of the whole country including Hokkaido. Mogami Tokunai went even further and explored the Kuril Islands.

Topic 43 Recap Challenge! – Describe the domain schools, temple schools, and private academies of the Edo period.

Ino Tadataka, Creator of the First Accurate Map of Japan
The first detailed map of Japan arose from both an urgency of national security and the scientific spirit of inquiry of one man who wanted to know the dimensions of the Earth.

Apprenticed to an astronomer at the age of fifty
Ino Tadataka, the son of the head of a team of fishermen, was born in the village of Kozeki (now Kujukuri), Kazusa Province, in 1745 (Enkyo 2). His mother died when he was still a child. At the age of eighteen, he married into the Ino family of the village of Sawara and took Ino as his surname. The Ino family managed a brewery and other businesses, but the intellectual Tadataka was more interested in mathematics and calendrical calculation. While looking after the family business, he also pored over books that he ordered from Edo.

At the age of fifty, he had his son take over as head of the Ino family and left for Edo. He convinced Takahashi Yoshitoki, an astronomer employed by the shogunate, to let him become an apprentice, and under Yoshitoki he mastered the fundamentals of astronomy and calendrical calculation.

Yoshitoki and Tadataka dreamed of discovering the size of the Earth by measuring the actual length of one meridional degree (one degree of latitude north to south). The opportunity to do so came sooner than they ever imagined.

At that time, British, American, and Russian warships were often spotted in Japanese waters. In particular, Russian ships were making frequent appearances around Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and Hokkaido. In 1800 (Kansei 12), Tadataka was asked by the shogunate to survey Hokkaido. He left Edo at the head of a team of assistant surveyors with many horses and laborers to carry their equipment. On the thirtieth day, they finally landed on Hokkaido, set Hakodate as their starting point, and began surveying the southeastern coastline.

An expedition fraught with danger
Using his own style of surveying called dosenho, Tadataka carefully measured all distances and angles with a variety of tools as he progressed along the island. In flat areas, he measured the land by rolling a kind of pedometer called a ryoteisha over the ground, whereas on rugged terrain he measured with a rope. Tadataka was said to be able to walk at a consistent stride length of exactly 69 centimeters. When he measured the land simply by walking, he advanced at

an efficient 15.71 kilometers per day on average. During the day, Tadataka used the position of the sun in the sky to determine his location, and at night he used fixed stars.

However, his survey of Hokkaido was fraught with life-threatening dangers. He crossed over perilous seafronts lined with jagged boulders, and walked such distances that he wore right through his straw sandals.

After safely returning to Edo, Tadataka finished his map of the Oshu Highway and the southeastern coast of Hokkaido, and presented it to the shogunate. Though not a complete map, it was groundbreaking as the first surveyed map to accurately represent the shape and location of Japan’s national territory.

The expedition also allowed Tadataka to calculate the length of one meridional degree as 110.75 kilometers, a figure virtually identical to one recorded in French astronomer Jerome Lalande’s book Astronomy, which the shogunate acquired at a later date.
The completion of the Ino Map
Tadataka’s next feat was to traverse the entire country taking precise measurements of the terrain. On the basis of this survey, he attempted to draw up a full map of Japan. However, he died in 1818 (Bunsei 1) at the age of seventy-four without seeing his project come to completion. The 35,000 kilometers that Tadataka walked on his nationwide survey, from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south, is roughly the same distance as the entire circumference of the Earth. The map was eventually finished in 1821 (Bunsei 4) by members of the shogunate’s Calendar Bureau under the title of The Complete Map of Greater Japan’s Coastline, also known as the “Ino Map”.

During the closing years of the Edo shogunate, one British naval officer visiting Japan initially scoffed at the country’s backwardness, but one look at the Ino Map made him change his tune. Astonished by its level of detail, in spite of Japan’s lack of Western technology, he returned to Britain convinced that Japan required no further surveying.

In 1828 (Bunsei 11), Franz von Siebold, a doctor serving at the Dutch trading post, attempted to carry a copy of the Ino Map out of the country, despite national law forbidding any maps from leaving Japan, but was caught in the act. A dozen individuals, including the State Astronomer and Library Commissioner Takahashi Kageyasu, were implicated in the “Siebold Incident”. Siebold was expelled and Takahashi died in prison.

The Ino Map remains a stirring testament to the advanced level of Japanese mathematics, Japan’s spirit of scientific inquisitiveness, and the unbreakable will of a man who let no obstacle daunt him.

Section 4 – The political development of the Edo shogunate

Topic 44 – Political reform of the shogunate
How did the shogunate react to the changing economic situation in eighteenth century Japan?

The Kyoho Reforms
In the eighteenth century, the shogunate’s finances, which depended on rice collected as land taxes, fell continuously along with the price of rice, and soon there was not even enough money to pay the retainers’ stipends. In 1716 (Kyoho 1), Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth shogun, adopted a policy of “world rectification” to solve the crisis. He practiced austerity, eating simple meals and wearing simple clothes, and forced this onto his retainers and townspeople by passing sumptuary laws. He also decreed that the daimyo must tribute one percent of their rice income to the shogunate and he strived to increase harvests by having new fields cultivated.1 Henceforth, the land tax was to be collected as fifty percent of the rice harvest, regardless of the size of the harvest. This did help balance the shogunate’s budget, but only on the backs of the peasantry. During the great famine of 1732 (Kyoho 17), western Japan was wracked by peasant revolts and urban riots.

*1=Because Yoshimune put great value on the rice-based economy, he was nicknamed “the rice shogun”. Though Yoshimune’s plan to develop new fields did increase production, this also served to lower the price of rice, which meant that his reforms achieved little for the shogunate.

Yoshimune set up complaint boxes so that he could hear the concerns of the common people, and then appointed Ooka Tadasuke, Lord of Echizen, as town commissioner to oversee the reforms. On Ooka’s recommendation, Yoshimune promulgated Rules for Public Officials to ensure fair trials, founded Koishikawa Infirmary to care for the poor, and organized numbered fire brigades. Shogun Yoshimune’s new policies are referred to as the Kyoho Reforms.

The Tanuma era
The shogunate’s policies of austerity often led to economic stagnation. In 1772 (Anei 1), after Yoshimune had retired, Elder Tanuma Okitsugu reversed course and instead attempted to expand the government’s budget by stimulating business and trade.

Tanuma officially recognized the merchant guilds known as kabunakama, and granted them trade monopolies in exchange for payment of hefty business taxes. To expand agricultural land, he had the merchants contribute capital towards a project to drain Inba Marsh (in modern-day Chiba Prefecture). He also developed Ezochi (modern-day Hokkaido), opening new routes for trade in marine products.

In 1783 (Tenmei 3), Mount Asama violently erupted. The unseasonable weather that followed in the wake of the eruption brought about a terrible famine that killed nearly one million people. This was called the Great Tenmei Famine. Revolts broke out across Japan and Tanuma was forced to quit as elder amidst a power struggle within the shogunate. Tanuma Okitsugu’s roughly twenty years in power are known as the “Tanuma era”. There were also other prominent individuals, such as Aoki Konyo and Uesugi Yozan, who carried out a variety of different reforms during this same period of time.

The Kansei Reforms
In 1787 (Tenmei 7), during the tenure of Tokugawa Ienari, the eleventh shogun, the shogunate appointed Matsudaira Sadanobu, the daimyo of Shirakawa, as Chief Elder. Sadanobu ordered that emergency rice reserves be established in rural villages for times of famine or crop failure. In addition, he sought to resuscitate village life by providing the many peasants who had taken refuge in the cities during the famine with financial aid so that they could return home. To provide relief to financially distressed retainers, he made merchants write off their debts, and to avert similar problems in the future, he insisted that all samurai practice thrift and devote themselves to learning, self-cultivation, and martial arts. He founded the Shoheizaka Institute of Learning, an academy directly controlled by the shogunate, in order to teach the Zhu Xi school of Neo-Confucianism. All other schools of thought were declared heresy. Sadanobu spent six years putting into place this reform program, which was known as the Kansei Reforms. However, some of Sadanobu’s economic policies, including his restrictions on the activities of the merchant guilds, slowed down the economy once more and raised the ire of the common people.2

*2=The townspeople of Edo expressed their opinions and criticism of the shogunate not only through the complaint boxes, but also in the form of satirical poetry. They welcomed Sadanobu’s appointment with a poem that likened him to “the waters of Shirakawa that shall reform and cleanse the fields, marshes, and even this impure reign.” By contrast, a later poem seemed to express frustration with Sadanobu’s vociferous advocacy of the

literary and military arts (bubun), which in Japanese is pronounced the same as the word “buzzing”: “In this world there is nothing as annoying as a mosquito whose buzzing keeps you awake at night.” Another such satirical poem read, “Fish cannot thrive in the clear waters of Shirakawa; they miss the muddy fields and marshes of days of old.”

Topic 44 Recap Challenge! – Using bullet points, list the achievements of the Kyoho Reforms, Tanuma era, and Kansei Reforms.

Aoki Konyo
(1698 – 1769)

Aoki Konyo, an expert in both Confucianism and Dutch Learning, is well known for his success at popularizing sweet potato cultivation throughout eastern Japan during the mid-Edo period. In preparation for future famines, Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune ordered Konyo to find out which food crops could withstand unseasonable weather. Konyo learned that the sweet potato, an edible tuber grown in Satsuma in the far south of Japan, was resistant to low temperatures.

Konyo had sweet potatoes from Satsuma brought to him and conducted numerous experiments with them on farms. He managed to grow them even in poor soil and cold weather. Many people survived the Great Tenmei Famine thanks to the shogunate’s encouragement of sweet potato cultivation. For this, Konyo was loved and respected as “Professor Sweet Potato”.

Uesugi Yozan
(1751 – 1822)

Uesugi Yozan, the Daimyo of Yonezawa Domain (modern-day Yamagata Prefecture), gained fame as a wise ruler who set right his domain’s financial affairs. Yozan wore simple clothes, ate simple meals, and asked his samurai retainers to do farm work. He started up paper, silk, and lacquerware industries, and rebuilt the finances of his domain. He passed the following precepts on to his heirs.

(1.) Because the domain is passed down from one generation to the next, it is not the personal property of the daimyo. (2.) Because the people belong to the domain, they, too, are not the property of the daimyo. (3.) The people do not exist to serve the daimyo, but rather it is the daimyo who exists to serve the people.
Yozan was also the author of the famous quote, “If you try, you will succeed. If you don’t try, you will fail in all areas. If you fail, it is because you didn’t try.”

Topic 45 – The Kasei culture
What were the distinguishing characteristics of the Kasei culture that flourished in the Edo area?

The blossoming of urban culture
The rise and fall of cultural movements in the Edo period was closely connected to the economic policies pursued by the shogunate. During the Kansei Reforms and the subsequent Tempo Reforms of the early-nineteenth century, the shogunate adopted a policy of austerity to balance the budget and encouraged thrift. These policies caused the economy to lose its vigor.

And yet, there was a twenty-five year gap between these two reforms when the shogunate’s austerity measures were relaxed. As the economy revived, so too did urban culture. The burgeoning culture of the townspeople was called the Kasei culture, a portmanteau of Bunka and Bunsei, which were the era names in use during this period. The center of the Kasei culture was Japan’s most consumerist city, Edo.

In the field of poetry, Yosa Buson wrote haiku about nature in an innovative style, whereas Kobayashi Issa’s haiku used simple and affectionate language to describe rural life. Humorous tanka and haiku that satirized Japanese politics and society enjoyed broad popularity among the townspeople. Other beloved forms of popular writing were picture books called kusazoshi, humorous novels about the daily lives of common people called kokkeihon, including Jippensha Ikku’s A Shank’s Mare Tour of the East Sea Highway and Shikitei Sanba’s Bathhouse of the Floating World, and adaptations of historical stories or legends called yomihon, including Takizawa Bakin’s Nanso Satomi Eight Dog Chronicles and Ueda Akinari’s Tales of Moonlight and Rain. Children were enthralled with folktales like Peach Boy and The Sparrow with the Slit Tongue, and they read children’s books designated as “red books” because of their red covers.

The growth of book rental stores played a major role in spreading these forms of popular literature. By the early-nineteenth century, there were over six hundred such stores in Edo alone. The time had come when even the poor could enjoy reading books. There were also “tile prints” that reported on incidents and disasters within Edo in a manner similar to modern-day newspapers.

Fretting over little, the townspeople partook in a broad range of entertainments such as comic storytelling, puppet plays, kabuki, and sumo. It also became common to go on pilgrimages to Ise

Grand Shrine or to the eighty-eight temples of Shikoku that doubled as sightseeing tours. One side effect of the growing popularity of pilgrimages was that the pilgrims spread knowledge of what they had seen on their trips across Japan.

The overseas impact of ukiyo-e
In the field of painting, ukiyo-e entered its golden age through the development of new techniques allowing artists to produce multicolored woodblock prints called nishiki-e. Kitagawa Utamaro drew beautiful women, while Toshusai Sharaku produced numerous portraits of individual kabuki actors. Sharaku was only active for a brief period, and his abrupt disappearance from the art scene continues to be a source of mystery. Later, Katsushika Hokusai created his masterpiece Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, a series of landscape prints drawn with a highly original composition and a wide palette of beautiful colors. Utagawa Hiroshige,1 who was influenced by Hokusai, earned a distinguished spot in the annals of art history through his magnificent landscape prints The Fifty-Three Stations of the East Sea Highway and One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. Ukiyo-e art was to be a major influence on French impressionist painters of the late-nineteenth century as well as Vincent van Gogh.

*1=He was also known as Ando Hiroshige.

In contrast with the ukiyo-e art relished by the masses, the samurai and educated townspeople preferred the elegant and unaffected beauty of the ink wash art of Ike no Taiga and Maruyama Okyo, which they referred to as “literati paintings”.

Topic 45 Recap Challenge! – During the Edo period, the masses gained access to a wide range of new information. Give three means through which they received this information.

Kabuki Created by Townspeople

“Theater barns” on the riverbank
By the start of the Edo period, Izumo no Okuni’s kabuki dance, which was performed at Shijogawara on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, had become wildly popular. “Theater barns” showing similar dances were soon cropping up in various places. Theater barns were unassuming buildings hastily put together on riverbanks without roofs, but it was here that the kabuki we know today truly began as mass entertainment. The epicenter of kabuki theater in Osaka was the district of Dotonbori, whereas in Edo it was the bank of the Kyobashi River.

The townspeople flocked to the theater barns, captivated by the wild, lively dances. Eventually, kabuki theater barns were even being raised in city centers. Fearing that kabuki was contributing to moral decay, the shogunate reined in performances and punished those who violated the restrictions with expulsion from the city. The sumptuary laws passed by the shogunate during the Kyoho and Kansei Reforms included prohibitions on kabuki performances.

Despite this, the townspeople never stopped patronizing their beloved kabuki, and no matter how many times the shogunate knocked it down, it always found a way back onto its feet. Permanent theaters were constructed in Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto. The shogunate allowed them to operate provided that all the actors were men, even those playing female roles. This became a tradition of kabuki theater that continues to this day.

“Rough style” in the east and “gentle style” in the west
The overwhelming success of kabuki theater was a boon to the creative talent of great actors and distinguished playwrights, the latter notably including Chikamatsu Monzaemon and Tsuruya Nanboku.

When Edo actor Ichikawa Danjuro went on stage, he colored his face with bold red, blue, or black paints, and mesmerized his audiences with his dramatic poses, aggressive movements, and thunderous stamping of the stage. This was called the “rough style” of kabuki, and representative works of this style include The Thunder God and The Subscription List.

On the other hand, Sakata Tojuro of western Japan won over the hearts of his audiences through his sensitive portrayal of human-interest stories. This was called the “gentle style” of kabuki, and

representative works of this style include The Courier for Hell and The Love Suicides at Sonezaki.

Before long, some of these kabuki actors, dubbed “thousand piece actors”, were raking in annual performance fees of over 1,000 gold pieces.

Permanent theaters had roofs that even extended over the spectator stands, as well as other improvements such as catwalks, revolving stages, and stage curtains. The popular actors were idolized by the people, who enthusiastically bought up their portraits or sought to emulate their fashion statements, sporting the “Ebi brown” loved by Ichikawa Ebizo, the checkered “Ichimatsu pattern” favored by Sanogawa Ichimatsu, and the “Hanshiro topknot” worn by Iwai Hanshiro.

In the West, opera and ballet thrived under the patronage of the king and the aristocracy, just as noh theater in Japan was supported by the elite samurai. By contrast, kabuki was mass entertainment, kept alive by the humble townspeople in spite of opposition from their own government.

Edo, an Eco-Friendly City

A city of a million people
The city of Edo was said to have had a population of about 150,000 people when the Tokugawa took power, but just 120 years later its population surpassed one million. By comparison, Europe’s greatest metropolis, Paris, contained 540,000 people during the same period. Edo had become the world’s largest city.

How could Edo have supplied enough food, clothing, and shelter for one million people? The answer is that Edo provided its citizens with a wide range of municipal services that were rationally designed to eliminate waste of resources and sustain its massive population.

A state-of-the-art water supply system
In 1590 (Tensho 18), Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the construction of a water conduit supplied by Inokashira Pond. This was called the Kanda Aqueduct. Combined with the Tamagawa Aqueduct fed from Tama River, Edo’s two most important water conduits alone stretched over 150 kilometers. By comparison, London only had thirty kilometers of aqueducts thirty years after

Edo had already completed its water supply system. As late as the nineteenth century, the citizens of Paris were still surviving by purchasing water pumped from the heavily polluted Seine River running through the city.

On the other hand, Edo’s sewerage system was poorly developed, but the human excrement generated by the people living in the city was regularly bought up as fertilizer by farmers who paid for it with coins or crops. Homeowners in Edo used separate toilets for urine and feces, and the price varied depending on its quality. The excrement generated at the residence of the daimyo was prized for its high nutrient content, so much so that there were specialty wholesalers who put forward bids for the sewerage collection rights.

Takizawa Bakin, author of Nanso Satomi Eight Dog Chronicles, once noted in his diary that annual sewerage collection rights for one person could be purchased for the price of fifty dried Japanese radishes.

A waste-free resource recycling system
Garbage was gathered regularly in Edo, loaded into ships, and dumped into Edo Bay for land reclamation projects. In addition, wastepaper like old notebooks were recycled, and even broken pots, knives, umbrellas, nails, and teacups were collected, repaired, and reused.

Because articles of clothing were especially precious, they were re-tailored many times over. Numerous used clothes stores lined the banks of the Nihonbashi and Kanda Rivers. They enjoyed steady business and organized into a guild that, including street peddlers, grew to claim 1,100 members.

Edo’s advanced systems of recycling are testament to how far the city had developed as a truly environmentally sustainable, eco-friendly society. Edo society was so stable that, even during famines, the price of rice never rose to more than double its normal value, and even the price of noodles and bathhouse fees remained at the same level for two hundred years.

Topic 46 – The shogunate in crisis
In what ways was the shogunate undermined by both the intrusions of foreign ships and internal rebellion and famine?

The encroachment of foreign ships
Beginning near the end of the eighteenth century, vessels from Western countries were frequently spotted sailing around Japan’s coastline. Russian ships often attempted to approach Japan. Russia sent two expeditions to Japan, one led by Adam Laxman in 1792 (Kansei 4) and one led by Nikolai Rezanov in 1804 (Bunka 1), to ask the shogunate for permission to trade.1 When the shogunate refused to relax its policy of national isolation, the Russians attacked Japanese settlements on Sakhalin and Iturup. When news of these attacks reached Japan, it sent a wave of fear through the country.

*1=Rezanov’s expedition was referenced by poet Kobayashi Issa in a haiku with the lines, “Oh ships from the land of cold mountain winds [Russia], may you take after the land of warm spring winds [Japan]!”

In 1808 (Bunka 5), the British frigate HMS Phaeton stunned the Japanese by invading the port of Nagasaki. After this event, known as the Phaeton Incident, British and American vessels continued to trespass Japanese coastal waters, leading the shogunate to further strengthen its isolationist policies in 1825 (Bunsei 2) through promulgation of the Edict to Repel Foreign Vessels.2

*2=Because of this edict, when the American merchant vessel Morrison arrived in Uraga (in modern-day Kanagawa Prefecture) in 1837 to return Japanese castaways to their homes, the shogunate had it driven away with cannon fire. This is known as the Morrison Incident.

The Tempo Reforms
During the Tempo era of the early-nineteenth century, Japan suffered a series of crop failures. In Osaka, Oshio Heihachiro, a scholar of the Wang Yangming school,3 was infuriated to see wealthy merchants hoard rice even as people starved to death in the streets. In 1837 (Tempo 8), he led a band of townspeople and peasants in open revolt. He attacked rice dealers, relieved them of their rice and money, and redistributed it to the poor of Osaka. Though the uprising was quashed in only one day and Oshio took his own life, many people sympathized with his heroic

act. What the shogunate found especially disturbing was that Oshio had previously been a senior officer employed by the shogunate at the Osaka town commissioner’s office. This was called Oshio Heihachiro’s Rebellion.

*3=The Wang Yangming school is a variety of Neo-Confucianism founded in Ming China that emphasizes direct action to defeat social injustice. Other scholars of this school included Nakae Toju and Kumazawa Banzan.

In 1841 (Tempo 12), Chief Elder Mizuno Tadakuni launched a vigorous campaign to bolster rural villages and restrain business activity. To achieve the former, he passed laws forcing peasants living in cities to return to their villages and forbidding them from working as merchants. To achieve the latter, he ordered the merchant guilds to disband so commodity prices would fall and issued sumptuary laws that clamped down on kabuki and popular literature. These were referred to as the Tempo Reforms. Tadakuni also attempted to increase revenues by putting the domains surrounding Edo and Osaka under the direct control of the shogunate and moving their daimyo and direct retainers to other territories. However, these heavy-handed measures provoked a backlash of opposition. Tadakuni’s grip on power, which endured for less than three years, actually served to weaken the authority of the shogunate.4

*4=During the same period, the cash-strapped Satsuma Domain (modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture) and Choshu Domain (modern-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) also introduced reforms. These two domains hired talented men, even low-ranking samurai, cancelled debts owed to merchants, and promoted the production of specialty goods. Their success in overcoming the financial difficulties of their domains helped to increase their clout and, by the final years of the Edo period, turned them into powers rivaling the shogunate itself.

The rise of the coastal defense doctrine
At this time, more and more people in Japan emphasized the protection of their country’s territorial integrity in order to respond to the perceived threat posed by the incursions of Western nations. Hayashi Shihei published the book Military Talks for a Maritime Nation, which argued for strengthening Japan’s coastal defenses. He noted pointedly that Edo Bay was eventually connected, by oceans, to the River Thames of London. Aizawa Seishisai, a Confucian scholar from Mito Domain, urged Shogunal Regent Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu (later the fifteenth shogun) to promote a united front of resistance against foreign powers. During an incident known as the Purge of the Barbarian Scholars, the shogunate imprisoned Dutch Learning scholar Takano

Choei for questioning the Edict to Repel Foreign Vessels and put Watanabe Kazan under house arrest for criticizing the government.

Meanwhile, Japan’s enthusiasm for the exploration of its territorial frontiers rose in tandem with its interest in national defense. Mamiya Rinzo surveyed the land between Hokkaido and Sakhalin on the orders of the shogunate. He discovered a new strait between Sakhalin and mainland Asia, now called the Mamiya Strait in Japanese, thus proving that Sakhalin was indeed an island.

Topic 46 Recap Challenge! – Write down the ways in which the shogunate responded during the waning decades of the Edo period to the frequent appearances of foreign ships near the Japanese coastline.

Ukiyo-e and Japanism
How did the culture of Edo Japan spread worldwide?

Ukiyo-e and the Japan boom
In 1878 (Meiji 11), the World’s Fair opened in Paris and brought Japanese ukiyo-e art to international attention. What followed was an unprecedented boom of foreign interest in Japan. The impressionist painters were fascinated by the bright colors, original compositions, and bold lines used in Japanese ukiyo-e art and enthusiastically sought to reproduce them in their own works. Claude Monet constructed a Japanese garden with a Japanese-style arched bridge at his own residence, and he made paintings of its thick flower patches and the water lilies resting on the surface of the pond.

Furthermore, the impact of ukiyo-e on the West was not limited to the visual tastes and techniques of Japanese art. The impressionists wanted to distance themselves from idealized religious art and instead seek beauty in nature and human life. The motifs of ukiyo-e art provided them with model artwork depicting people and the natural world as they are.

The influence of Japanese art on the West is called Japanism, or Japonisme in the original French. Japanism later spread to many other fields of Western art, including posters and glassware.

Van Gogh and Utagawa Hiroshige
In 1887 (Meiji 20), the legendary Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh painted a reproduction of Plum Park in Kameido, a woodblock print originally created by Utagawa Hiroshige sometime between 1856 and 1858. 1887 was the same year that van Gogh painted Portrait of Père Tanguy, which included six examples of Japanese ukiyo-e art in the background. Père Tanguy was an art dealer, and it appears that ukiyo-e art was hanging on the wall behind him. Of these six pieces of art, both the middle and right ones in the top row were Hiroshige’s works. Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his younger brother Theo that, “We impressionist painters all love Japanese art and have been deeply influenced by it. We are the Japanese of France.”

During the Meiji period, the Japanese people themselves sometimes failed to understand

the value of their ukiyo-e art and they used it as wrapping paper for pottery that was to be exported overseas. Ironically, it was the wrapping paper, rather than the pottery, that left a stronger impression on the Paris art scene. The Japanese of the Meiji period who were so keen to study Western art ended up rediscovering through Western eyes the value of their own country’s traditional artwork.


Hiroki asks his brother about the periodization of premodern history…

The following is a dialogue between Hiroki, a Japanese middle school student, and his elder brother.

Hiroki: The premodern period was between the Warring States period and the end of the Edo period, right? The samurai were in charge just like during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, so how is that any different from the medieval period?

Hiroki’s brother: There were a lot of differences, actually. It started with the rise of the warring states daimyo who had to balance the demands of their retainers with the interests of the farmers in the domains they controlled.

Hiroki: Yeah, I had heard that the Warring States daimyo had to rule as “domain administrators”.

Hiroki’s brother: Under the Edo shogunate, the senior administrative posts included the “elders” and the “junior elders”. These were the same old titles that the leaders of Japanese rural villages used to take.

Hiroki: Did the Edo shogunate let the villages govern themselves?

Hiroki’s brother: Japan was divided into about 260 domains during the Edo period, but in most cases, the domains allowed peasant leaders to run their own villages. However, the daimyo took charge of maintaining public order and large-scale development projects.

Hiroki: Also, Japan was a stable country without war or much contact with the outside world. That’s why people could travel safely and business was good.

Hiroki’s brother: That’s right. The townspeople became wealthy due to the growth of commerce and manufacturing, which in turn sparked a boom in forms of popular culture that continue even today, including haiku poetry, puppet theater, kabuki theater, painting, the tea ceremony, and crafts such as pottery and lacquerware.

Hiroki: There were a lot of schools, too, and I guess even Western books could be imported as long as they weren’t about Christianity. All our daily necessities were recycled and reused. Japan was self-sufficient and peaceful… Maybe if the black ships had never come, we would still be living in the Edo period today.

Comparing historical periods

(1.) If we were to set Hideyoshi’s sword hunt as a turning point in Japanese history, how would you describe the differences between what Japan was like before and after it?

(2.) If we were to use the sakoku policy of “national isolation” as a benchmark and divide the Edo period into a “pre-sakoku” and a “post-sakoku” phase, what would you cite as the most important characteristics of each phase?

Comparing historical figures

Summarize the differences between Oda Nobunaga, who welcomed Christianity, and Tokugawa Iemitsu, who instituted the policy of “national isolation”.

An essay “in a word”

What did you find most fascinating about Japan’s premodern history?

In a word, the premodern period was the era of __________.

In the blank, insert the topic that you think best fits and write a short essay of between 100 and 200 words on it.

Examples: national isolation, peace, urban culture, etc…

Group discussion work

(1.) During the Edo period, the country remained at peace for over two hundred years. For what reasons did Japanese society develop in this manner?

(2.) How was the urban culture that blossomed during the Edo period connected to the contemporary political and economic situation? Let everyone share their own ideas.

(explanation of key terms in less than 100 words)

Warring states daimyo 1400s – 1500s A new type of feudal lord that controlled a province by virtue of his own power rather than through appointment by the shogun. These daimyo had the samurai within their domains pledge allegiance to them, amassed large numbers of powerful retainers, and prepared for war with the other daimyo. The era of internecine warfare between the daimyo is known as the Warring States period.
Treaty of Tordesillas 1494 A treaty endorsed by the Pope to divide Spain and Portugal’s overseas activity east and west of the Atlantic Ocean. Two exclusive spheres of influence were formed: an eastern hemisphere where all newly discovered lands would belong to the King of Portugal and a western hemisphere where all newly discovered lands would belong to the King of Spain.
Introduction of firearms 1543 During the Warring States period, the first Europeans to set foot on Japan brought firearms with them. Once Japan was producing its own firearms, their utility as a new weapon was quickly realized, sparking a transformation in traditional military tactics and hastening the process of national unification.
Honno-ji Temple Incident 1582 A rebellion that took place at Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto. After Oda Nobunaga opened the path to national unification, he was attacked by his own retainer, Akechi Mitsuhide, and driven to suicide at Honno-ji Temple. Another of Nobunaga’s retainers, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, defeated Akechi and brought Nobunaga’s ambition to unify Japan to fruition.
Taiko Land Surveys 1582 – Land surveys ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who held the title of taiko. Land registries were drawn up showing the rice yield and quality of the land. The surveys recognized the right of farmers to own their own fields and served to deepen the separation between farmer and samurai. Farmers were obligated to pay land taxes to the daimyo governing their domain.
Japanese invasions of Korea 1592, 1597 Two invasions of Korea launched by Hideyoshi following his unification of Japan. In spite of early victories, the first Japanese invasion floundered due to the naval campaign of Yi Sun-sin and the arrival of Ming Chinese reinforcements. Japanese forces withdrew from Korea, only to return for the second invasion, which ended with the death of Hideyoshi. The Japanese invasions of Korea eroded the power of the Toyotomi clan.
Battle of Sekigahara 1600 A battle that took place after Hideyoshi’s death at Sekigahara, during which Tokugawa Ieyasu crushed the forces, mostly of western Japan, that resisted his bid to rule Japan. Ieyasu’s territories had been moved from the Tokai region of central Japan to the Kanto region of eastern Japan, but here Ieyasu consolidated his power, allied with many other warlords, and finally defeated the Western Army led by Ishida Mitsunari.
Establishment of the Edo Shogunate 1603 The shogunate founded in Edo, which was within Tokugawa Ieyasu’s domain, following his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara. After being appointed shogun by the Imperial Court and establishing the Edo shogunate, Ieyasu attacked Osaka Castle and destroyed the Toyotomi clan. His family ruled all of Japan for fifteen generations, an era known as the Edo period.
Laws for the Military Houses 1615 A set of laws promulgated by the shogunate to control the daimyo. The daimyo were prohibited from renovating their castles or arranging marriages among themselves without the shogun’s consent. Any daimyo in violation of these laws could have his clan broken up and his domain confiscated, or be transferred to a different domain.
Sakoku 1639 A policy of “national isolation” implemented in order to protect Japan from foreign encroachments and remove the influence of Christianity. After the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion, which had been launched by Christians and peasants, the shogunate further strengthened its anti-Christian laws and imposed tight restrictions on immigration, emigration, and commerce.
Kyoho Reforms 1716 – 1745 The new policies instituted during the thirty-year rule of Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth shogun. Yoshimune improved the shogunate’s financial affairs by demanding austerity from the daimyo and direct retainers, raising rice tributes, and cultivating new agricultural lands. He also undertook various other reforms, including the installation of complaint boxes.
Policies of Tanuma Okitsugu 1772 – 1786 The policies implemented by Elder Tanuma Okitsugu. He desired to expand the shogunate’s budget by focusing on burgeoning businesses and trade. He extracted business taxes from merchants, drained Inba Marsh, and developed Hokkaido. Tanuma Okitsugu’s time in power is called the “Tanuma era”.
Kansei Reforms 1787 – 1793 The policies of Shirakawa Daimyo Matsudaira Sadanobu who was appointed as an elder by the shogun. Sadanobu ordered the construction of rice storehouses in villages in case of famine or crop failure and made efforts to restore rural life to normalcy. He also encouraged the samurai to engage in scholarly pursuits, and founded the Shoheizaka Institute of Learning under direct shogunate control in order to instruct the direct retainers in Neo-Confucianism.
Oshio Heihachiro’s Rebellion 1837 A rebellion of townspeople and peasants led by Oshio Heihachiro, a senior officer of the Osaka town commissioner’s office. After a failed harvest led to famine in Osaka and other parts of Japan, Oshio was infuriated by the hoarding of rice by wealthy merchants while many were starving to death–he wanted to redistribute the merchants’ money and rice to the poor.
Tempo Reforms 1841 – 1843 The reforms implemented by Chief Elder Mizuno Tadakuni. Tadakuni undertook a program of rural revitalization and business restraint that was even more thorough than that of Matsudaira Sadanobu. He broke up the merchant guilds in order to lower commodity prices, passed sumptuary laws, and prohibited kabuki and popular literature.